Papaji

The kids came home from camp this weekend and the world rejoiced – right?  That’s how it felt to me.

My parents waited a whole 2 hours after they got home to call them. My mother lit candles and said prayers – I’m sure all the Indians Gods were involved.  I spoke briefly to my father who said just one thing to the kids coming home.  He said,”Good.” Then he passed the phone to my mother who took 30 minutes to tell me that only parents who don’t love their kids send them to camp.

That conversation sums up my entire childhood.

Have I ever told you about my dad? I should, you should know him.  He loves music – both classical and popular.  He has always rocked a ‘stache. He’s got a massive sweet tooth, loves to draw and spends most weekends napping and reading a paper. He’s a man of few words. Actually, no words. The only instance when he tucks into a long narrative story (and still will) is when he talks about his college years. The short period of time when he left home and went to boarding school. Ask him about that and he’ll sing like a canary.

He was one of 4 boys – his mother died after his youngest brother was born. He never told us how. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of her.  He was raised in a village – hardcore 3rd world style.  His entire education was funded by scholarships.  He wanted to be a doctor, worked toward it for years, but didn’t have the money to go to through med school.  There was, however, an American initiative to sponsor pharmacists from small Indian villages (not really, but I can’t get a straight answer on how it all went down).  They would pay for college and then pharmaceutical school – and in return you would agree to work in either Canada, the U.S. or Africa for a couple of years.  He went for it.  This was before 9/11 and before the world wide web took over – things were easier.

His stories of that time are amazing. He left home and  never looked back, he lived with several different families that took him in and he lived in several different youth hostel type of places.  By the time he graduated, he was also married.  He decided that Canada was the place for him/them – and made the move.  He talks about the move – leaving his country/his family/his new bride – in the most non dramatic way.  There’s no big, epic Ellis Island moment where he reached the promised land.  The really big news about making the big move? He tried and liked chicken.  That was about as “shock and awe” as he gets.

My mother stayed back in India while my dad set-up shop.  He eventually decided that New York City was a better option vs. Toronto.  And that’s how we landed on Plymouth – I mean Queens….via Canada.

For the most part – I had a very boring, protected childhood. My parents didn’t really fight – it was usually my mother yelling about something and my dad reading a paper.  I don’t remember him ever raising his voice at me or my sister – he may have nodded along while my mother ripped us apart but nothing more than that.  Sister – do you concur?

There was one part of our life where he was very vocal and aggressive – school.  He knew about every homework assignment and every project. He went to all the conferences and meetings and attended every concert (did I tell you I was in choir for 8 years, and that we made Nationals in High School – we did a rendition of Phantom that would knock you over. Sorry).

He is the most opposite of my mother as anyone could and would be.  She is the fizzy, bubbling tablet to his still water.  Forget the yin to her yang – he’s the calming yogurt to her spicy curry.  I can hear my sister rolling her eyes so I’ll stop now.

My baby was born on the same day as my father – which is ironic considering he has my mother’s disposition.

I wonder who I’m like?  I’m probably the best of both of them….yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Here’s a couple of pics of my dad – one from his wild, chicken eating Canadian days – and one from today (technically last Christmas)

 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nan's Blog
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 20:35:44

    I loved reading about your dad. What an exciting life he had. And your a great writer. I look fwd to reading your other posts.

    Reply

  2. hlthaker
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 21:12:20

    He once told me that he always wanted to be an artist. When he was in Pharmacy school and had to take a bunch of science classes, sometimes on his tests if he couldn’t remember what some scientific process or another was called, he’d draw a picture of it instead. He said it helped him get through school.

    The other things he loves talking about: food, the weather, his grandkids. Sound familiar?

    Reply

  3. DeeDee
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 07:59:38

    Simply beautiful and inspiring.

    Reply

  4. Melanie B.
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:36:11

    Very, very nice. :-)

    Reply

  5. Kathy
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 10:55:28

    Your papaji sounds like a wonderful kind man … just like his amazing daughter.. BTW… Have I told you…..I LOVE your blog!!!!

    Reply

  6. Thoughts and Rants in Jogging Pants
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 21:02:09

    This might be your best post that I’ve read.

    Reply

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